Tuesday's San Francisco Opera Designer Fete wowed the arts contributor crowd with a wide representation of designer dresses and gowns. Organized by the San Francisco Opera Guild and featuring a long list of couture designers, the event showcased a variety of options for Fall 2007 and enticed the attendees to open up their pocketbooks and buy gowns for fall's upcoming galas.
Designers represented included (in order): Monique Lhuillier, Melinda Eng, Zang Toi, Carmen Marc Valvo, Azzaro, Stephen Yearick, Naeem Khan, Pamela Rolland, Robert Danes, Redux Charles Chang-Lima, and Badgley Mishka. Carmen Marc Valvo, Robert Danes and Zang Toi all were present. Nordstrom sponsored the event, along with United Airlines, the Nob Hill Gazette, J Vineyards & Winery, Boisset America, and DeLoach Vineyards. (Ah, if I'd only been able to try all of the wines!)
Two things happened at this year's show: 1) I decided it's my favorite philanthropic fashion show put on annually (although I haven't seen them all yet, so this could change) and 2) I found a few new designers to covet. Pre-show, patrons are provided with the opportunity each year to browse the gowns on racks in a salon before entering the ballroom. This is wonderful because you can see the exquisite beading and details that are not obvious from a distance.
I found two gowns I would love to have in my closet: an aubergine short puffed-sleeved lush silk gown with Venetian glass decoration around the neck by Naeem Khan and a cream Redux Charles Chang-Lima dress covered in gorgeous lace with spaghetti straps. If I could have afforded either, I would be already planning the rest of the ensemble for the next gala.
The theme of this year's show - "Ode to the Goddess" - was brought-out in Grecian urns on the tables filled with flowers and a unique circular fabric column-like fixture at the head of the runway. A dramatic blend of classical and dance music filled the room as each designer's set of models came forward. A few nearly fell, tripping over the long gowns.
A few clear trends emerged in terms of styles for fall evening wear. The first was belts. Many of the gowns had embroidered, beaded, or satin belts. Several dresses were embellished with lace. Common colors included browns, blacks, grays, blush, and metallics. I love the words used in the program to describe the gowns and colors, like 'stone' and 'raspberry'. Enticing words to draw in shoppers at one of the best San Francisco fashion events of the year.
Saturday, the Town of Atherton is hosting an Eco Luxury Reception and Dance, featuring eco-fashion. I'm organizing a mini-fashion show for in-between live band sets. Designers represented will include Del Forte Denim, Kee-Ka (wait for the cute kids!), Wildlife Works, Cari Borja and more. It's at the Holbrook Palmer Park in Atherton and everyone is welcome. For tickets and more information, goto athertongreen.net.
Last month's Fashion Week Live event measured-up to all of the glamorous hype and advertising. The event featured a variety of American designers and highlighted models Naomi Campbell and Gemma Ward. Two other big name models in the show included Tyrese and Alek Wek. As nothing of this scale had ever been attempted in San Francisco (to my knowledge), cars piled up in the sunny Marina in anticipation of the well publicized fashion spectacle.
Bright lights, cameras galore, loud, booming 80's music remixed with a deep bass dance undertone, and Fort Mason became home to a thundering, flattering bazaar of fall's most glittering fashion designs. Peter Som headlined the event; local designers Colleen Quen and Lily Samii also presented designs. All three were present. Other designers included, roughly in order, Marc Jacobs, Anne Klein, Badgley Mischka, Tuleh, Jovovich-Hawk, Kim Jones, Isaac Mizrahi, Ellen Tracy, Chaiken, Nicole Miller, Derek Lam, Luca Luca, Nanette Lepore, Zac Posen, Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, Heatherette, Tracy Reese, Charles Nolan, John Varvatos, Rag & Bone, adampluseve, John Bartlett, Thakoon, Tory Burch, Chado Ralph Rucci, Donna Karan, Oscar de la Renta, Zegna, Michael Kors and Naeem Khan.
Several familiar faces from the San Francisco social and philanthropy scene attended, including Vanessa Getty and my personal choice for best dressed woman in 2006, Karen Caldwell. Apparently SFluxe agrees with me. An active member of the San Francisco Ballet Auxilliary, I learned yesterday from Karen that she's also mother of two boys, leaving me even more impressed as she always looks amazing.
My fashion compatriot, Melissa Black Palecek, local stylist (whose clients include both moms and dads, I learned), and I arrived just as the champagne pre-party was becoming packed. We downed some delicious appetizers served by the nicest catering staff I've ever met, then spent a bit of time people-watching as we sipped our bubbly waiting for the show to start. Not surprisingly, most attendees chose black dresses, the majority of which were well-selected. As usual, a few women selected shoes they couldn't quite navigate, so the intended effect of their ensembles was ruined by their inability to walk.
Some concoctions left us baffled - such as a blue vinyl micro mini and a cream ruffled gown - but for the most part, this crowd knew how to dress. And it was refreshing to see so many well-dressed men in attendance, I might add. Although I have to note that one man was wearing the same exact fabric in his shirt as I had two years ago in a maternity blouse.
SV moms wanted to know what we chose to wear. Knowing the fashion crowd in SF can show-up in anything from jeans to couture, I aimed for the middle ground with a Nicole Miller black skirt, a black and white print blouse, vintage Banana Republic metallic belt, my trusty black leather Manolo Blahnik slingbacks and classic, can't go wrong, black "caviar" Chanel handbag. Melissa wore a wool peasant-style tunic by French designer Manoush, with Italian over the knee socks and brown suede flat heeled boots.
As eight o'clock approached, show staff invited us into the main tent where a white runway spanned the length of an Olympic pool, surrounded by several rows of black seating on both sides. Since we procured our tickets early, Melissa and I sat centrally on an aisle, just a few rows from the front. The view couldn't have been better. First down the runway, Naomi Campbell sauntered in a sleep Marc Jacobs black knit dress, fitting her curves beautifully.
The initial segment of the show highlighted "black and white", featuring an Anne Klein cream and black ensemble, a gorgeous black wool coat by Michael Kors, a skirt by Isaac Mizrahi that resembled a crossed sheepdog and poodle. That one didn't quite make my shopping list for fall. Yaz and Eurythmics dance blends filled the pavilion as the models traversed the runway with ease and style. Hats abounded, along with svelte, long gloves. The show lasted nearly an hour with other sections featuring color, day, cocktail and evening attire.
Highlights of the show for us were pretty much everything by Zac Posen, Marc Jacobs and Oscar de la Renta. I wanted to take home Chaiken's high-waisted, gray wool pants and Derek Lam's denim skirt. Melissa liked the glitzy cuffs and Luca Luca pieces. Gemma Ward, who is phenomenally gorgeous in person, took my breath way at the end of the show in a black gown by Zac Posen. It looked as if it was made of paper mache and had wings and a flowing, ruffled tail.
Although the show primarily profited its IMG World parent company, Children of Shelters benefited some from the event. Sponsors included Sephora, Mercedes Benz, Swarovski, and DHL. The gift bag, heavier than a backpack full of books, contained tons of make-up and skincare products by Stila, Bliss, Sephohra, Dr. Perricone and Cosmedicine, a bland Mercedes Benz Fashion Week golf shirt, notepads by DHL, blingy Swarovski keychain and a giant catalog from Saks. That's the one area where the event could have been improved.
For thirsty fashion watchers, this event served as a pitcher full of juicy eye candy and the audience was nearly as fun to watch as the catwalk. Since all of the clothes featured were from fall/winter 2007 collections, it will be interesting to see which of the pieces from the show will end up in San Francisco as August comes around. Overall, Fashion Week Live was the best fashion show I've ever seen and definitely worth the time, travel and money to attend. I'll be in line next year if they return to the Bay Area.
black & white
tailored suit jackets
sporty jackets and anoraks
high-collared button-up pastel suits
ballerina wrap cardigans
deep v-neck tops
puffed sleeved blouses
open-back dresses & gowns
strapless short dresses
little white dresses
shimmery fitted tank dresses
fitted v-neck dresses
dresses over pants/leggings
micro mini skirts
knee-length & below-knee skirts
little black skirts
large hoop earrings
piled-on accessories (multiple bracelets or necklaces)
oversized cocktail rings
tiny accessory bags
chain link bags
satin bows @ waist ((oversized and belt-sized, with long tails)
pencil thin belts
super thick corset belts
medium brown leather belts
Mary Jane ankle-strap shoes
overlapped thick strapped sandals
Carmen Marc Valvo
Sarah Granger writes a trend list every season for SFBayStyle.
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